- U.S. Border Patrol
There's simmering diplomatic tension on both sides of the Rio Grande stemming from a cross-border shooting last week.
A U.S. Border Patrol helicopter patrolling the river bank in Laredo suddenly came under fire on Friday. One shot went through the chopper, hitting the pilot on his protective vest. The pilot was not injured, but he was forced to make an emergency landing.
As a result, the Border Patrol decided to dispatch military-style Black Hawk helicopters – those of Black Hawk Down lore – as a means of protection and to show some muscle.
The FBI and Texas Rangers are investigating the shooting. All indicators thus far point to the shots coming from the Mexico.
"We've received several leads," FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee told the Laredo Morning Times.
Two Texas congressmen representing the border region came out in support of border agents, backing the move to send the reinforced choppers, which can withstand small-arms fire and which can carry a larger crew.
"CBP continuously reviews the conditions of the border environment and deploys its resources accordingly. I support the men and women of CBP as they protect our Southern border," Congressman Henry Cuéllar, a Blue Dog Democrat from Laredo, said in a statement.
His fellow Democrat from the Rio Grande Valley, U.S. Rep. Filemón Vela, was a tad bit more candid as to how he felt regarding the Border Patrol chopper taking fire.
"When Mexican bullets are aimed across the river at United States law enforcement, that changes the game," Vela said in a statement. "We cannot stand for such activity, and I fully support Custom and Border Protection's decision to send Blackhawk helicopters to protect our men and women in the field. I hope it's enough."
But as far as the Mexican government sees it, the move may be too much.
Mexico's foreign affairs ministry said it is collaborating with the U.S. investigation into the shooting – but the move to send in Black Hawks did not sit well.
"Mexico takes offense at any move to showcase the border as a security threat instead of a shared space between good neighbors," the ministry said in a statement.